Mount Horeb man charged with homicide in bat attack

Suspect being held on $1 million bail
Mount Horeb man charged with homicide in bat attack

A man accused of beating a Fitchburg man with a baseball bat in Mount Horeb has been charged with first-degree reckless homicide after the victim died over the weekend.

Koalton Peterson, 18, of Mount Horeb, was charged Monday in Dane County Circuit Court.

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office said 20-year-old Ryan M. Smith died Saturday morning at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison.

The Dane County medical examiner said Smith ultimately died from blunt-force trauma to the head and skull. He had suffered severe brain injuries and trauma to his heart and lungs in the beating early last Tuesday.

Peterson’s bond was set last week at $1 million. Prosecutors on Monday asked the judge to keep that bond with the new charge as they consider Peterson a flight risk.

“It’s our understanding that Mr. Peterson has been moving among friend’s residences for the past 10 months and also living at parks in Mount Horeb for a number of months as well,” said Nick Gansner, assistant Dane County district attorney.

The judge agreed Monday to keep Peterson’s bond at $1 million.

Dane County sheriff’s detectives obtained information that shows that before the incident, the two men had been exchanging text messages over the sale of marijuana from Peterson to Ryan, according to a Dane County Sheriff’s Office news release.


Those text messages became argumentative when Peterson told Ryan that he would not provide him with the drugs that night, sheriff’s officials said.

Shortly after midnight on Nov. 27, Smith and a female friend arrived at 407 Oak Valley Road in Mount Horeb, where Peterson was staying with a friend, sheriff’s officials said.

The criminal complaint said the two got into an altercation when Smith met Peterson to buy marijuana but Peterson wanted to wait a day.

Peterson told police that Smith pushed him in the chest, then punched him in the face, according to the complaint.

Peterson didn’t deny hitting Smith with a baseball bat, but he said he blacked out and didn’t know how many times he had hit Smith, according to the complaint.

He told police “he thought maybe that he had gone too far … maybe he had killed (Smith),” and fled to a friend’s house, according to the complaint.

The Smith’s female friend called 911, and Peterson fled through the back of the house, sheriff’s officials said.

A Mount Horeb police officer responded to the scene at 12:21 a.m., and found Smith lying in the street unresponsive. The officer performed lifesaving efforts on Ryan until he was transported by Med Flight to UW Hospital.

Dane County sheriff’s deputies also responded to the scene and at about 1:15 a.m., a deputy made contact and detained Peterson near the intersection of Park Street and Third Street in Mount Horeb. That same deputy recovered the baseball bat, which Peterson had discarded on the property behind 407 Oak Valley Road, according to sheriff’s officials.

Peterson is due back in court for a preliminary hearing next week Tuesday.

Sheriff officials said the case remains an open investigation and detectives are continuing to compile evidence in the case. Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call the Dane County tip line at 608-284-6900. Callers may remain anonymous.